Liverpool’s former commonwealth champion, James Metcalf (22-2) upset Spain’s golden boy and local star in WBA #4 Kerman Lejarraga (34-2) via a 10-round unanimous decision (97-94, 96-94, 96-95) on Friday evening at the Bilbao Arena on DAZN with approximately 5000 in attendance.
JJ Metcalf, a 3-1 underdog, always had an excellent chance due to the lacklustre performances of Lejarraga in recent fights in particular Jez Smith but also Dylan Charrat. Metcalf has taken 3 50-50 fights in a row and learning experiences with Ted Cheeseman and Kieran Conway put him in perfect stead for this contest.
James Metcalf used his hand speed and footwork to outbox Lejarraga and not make the mistake made by Jac Flatley in fighting Lejarraga’s fight, which is a slow-paced, toe-to-toe war where the power jab and right hand of Lejarraga would see him come off stronger. Metcalf moved and attacked in spurts as well as picking Lejarraga off coming in with slow footwork.
Who Should James Metcalf Face Next?
British Champion Troy Williamson
An almost obvious matchup is the British champion, Darlington’s Troy Williamson. Williamson and James Metcalf share a common opponent in Ted Cheeseman who Williamson dramatically stopped and Metcalf was stopped by both in fight of the year contenders in the same year. Williamson had a tough fight with Mason Cartwright recently but is a solid operator and with Metcalf experienced and on good form, it is likely to be a well-matched contest.
The only issue would be the promotional alignment. Williamson is with probellum and Metcalf recently won on a Matchroom show, looking to remain there. It is likely Williamson would have to cross the street and even then would Matchroom make that fight with no promotional options on Williamson?
2016 Olympian, France’s Souleymane Cissokho turned professional at super welterweight and is with 258/Matchroom. With the 258 alignment, it is likely he will be more preferable to Matchroom than other fighters. Cissokho did say he wasn’t big enough for 154 and would go down to 147 after his last fight, but if he chooses to stay at 154 – this could be a good opportunity for him as well as the European title he is mandated for.
Until recently, Ireland’s Agyarko campaigned at a 160 pounds but decided he wasn’t big enough for middleweight yet and has moved down to super welterweight. Agyarko is expected to return around July time in his 154 debut, but after that, a fight between Agyarko and James Metcalf would be a real 50-50 contest with the winner getting a good ranking with the WBA (Agyarko and Metcalf hold WBA belts).